Bolt launches e-scooter service in Rakvere, Viljandi, several other towns

A Bolt e-scooter.
A Bolt e-scooter. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonian ride-sharing app firm Bolt has launched its electric scooter service in the Estonian towns of Rakvere and Viljandi, bringing the total number of towns covered to nine.

Spokesperson for the company's e-scooter component, Aleksandr Lilišentsev, said: "We are delighted that, at last, residents of Viljandi will also have the opportunity to ride comfortable and economical scooters."

"We have worked very well and closely with the city authorities, so that we can bring scooters to the urban landscape and make them available to locals ahead of the beginning of the summer," he added, via a company press release.

The same was equally true for Rakvere, Lilišentsev noted.

The service is available at the time of writing in both towns, along with the four cities other towns Bolt has launched, or soon to launch, the service, namely Kohtla-Järve, Narva, Haapsalu and Jõhvi.

The scooters first appeared in Tallinn in the summer of 2019, and were soon added to Tartu and Pärnu, the second and fourth-largest Estonian towns by population.

A Bolt spokesperson told ERR News Thursday that the company was investigating rolling out the service in other towns in Estonia, though no clear timeline was yet available.

The e-scooters generally appear in spring time, through to autumn, and go under wraps when winter conditions render using them impractical.

The company, one of Estonia's unicorn firms, has operated its taxi-hailing app for several years, recently entering the market in some countries in Asia and Latin America.

It also operates food courier service, and recently added a short-term car rental service.

Bolt's e-scooter competitors include Tuul, while Wolt is one of its major food courier competitors, and Citybee provides short-term car rental services. All of these firms similarly use downloadable apps.

Aleksandr Lilišentsev reminded users that safety regulations, traffic and conditions should be borne in mind at all times, while wearing a helmet was recommended.

Scooters can only be rented by those aged 16 and over, while only one passenger per scooter is permissible.

Viljandi mayor Madis Timpson (Reform) said the arrival of the two-wheeled vehicles was a boon for the town.

Timpson said: "Viljandi is an innovative and youthful city, and scooters fit in very well with our way of thinking about the future of the city. We have a nice little town, meaning that during the summer, in addition to providing a fun way to ride, electric scooters can be utilized instead of a car, for example, in journeys from home to work, or to the store."

"Summer is coming, and we invite everyone to visit us in Viljandi. If you do not have the capacity to walk far, you can always rent a scooter and see our wonderful city with your own eyes," he added, according to Bolt.

Parking places for the scooters in Viljandi, population 17,000, are here.

Triin Varek (Center), mayor of the other town which has just received the Bolt service, Rakvere (population 15,000), said the scooters represented one step closer to a greener way of thinking, covering as they do quite a wide breadth of the city.

She said: "Most likely some cars will stay parked at home more, thanks to the new service, because it is convenient and easier to use a scooter to cross shorter distances."

Meanwhile deputy mayor Kert Karus (Isamaa) deputy similarly welcomed their arrival, which, he said, had taken some time.

"Although the coronavirus pandemic which broke out last year put the negotiations on hold for a while, we have now obtained a positive outcome," Karus said, via a Bolt press release.

Rakvere's 12 parking points are here.

Users must download the Bolt app, available in English, to their device, after which they can use it to locate free scooters, reserving them if required.

Unlocking a scooter is free for the first three days in Viljandi and Rakvere, after which it will cost €0.50, Each ride costs a minimum of €0.15 (the per-minute charge) and is charged by time the scooter is in use rather than distance traveled.

First-time users can consult an in-app riders' manual. Maximum speeds are 25 km/h (which the scooters are set to as a maximum), though Bolt says users should ensure the selected speed is appropriate for themselves, the conditions, and other road users and pedestrians.

In some locations, such as in Tallinn's old town, the speed limit is lower, but again this automatically kicks in when traveling on a scooter in those zones.

Areas permissible for parking are marked on the in-app map; post-ride, users should leave at least 1.5 meters' space for pedestrians. On completing a journey a user must provide a photo of the parked scooter in any case, using their device's camera (the app directs the user to this function).

The law governing e-scooter use, both legislation and case law, has been tightened up in recent months.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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